Microscopic spaces, huge impacts

by Gabrielle Taylor January 17, 2017

Microscopic spaces, huge impacts

Microscopic spaces between heart cells have been found to be related to incidences of sudden cardiac arrest.

If you think of your heart cells as an electrical circuit, sudden cardiac arrest is increasingly being associated with a shortage or a faulty interchange within the complicated workings of our tickers.

But luckily for all of us, Steven Poelzing, an associate professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, has received a $2.1 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health for research to combat America’s No. 1 killer - heart disease.

With Australia currently facing a similar battle with heart disease, we thought this development was one worth talking about.

Poelzing will lead a research team to investigate how the microscopic spaces surrounding heart cells affect connections called gap junctions, which allow electrical impulses and small molecules to pass between cells.

The research team hypothesizes that the size and nature of the space between cells can determine the risk of sudden cardiac death and, if those spaces can be modulated, such modulation could be a therapeutic agent to protect the health of heart patients.

Such work is predicted to provide brand new insights and therapeutic treatment platforms of ischemic heart disease and the prevention of abnormal electrical rhythms in the heart, including those that can lead to sudden cardiac death.

To find out more about the study, click here.

Gabrielle Taylor
Gabrielle Taylor

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